It’s the end of the summer and your freshman year at University in America is creeping up on you. New experiences, new classes, and new friends. So exciting, but also a little intimidating. As an international student, you may be feeling overwhelmed, but don’t worry you’re not alone. Even the local first year students are feeling exactly the same; you’re all in the same boat! Consequently, people are very interested in making friends their first year.
Here are a few different tips to making friends in your first year at University.
Be Yourself & Take advantage of your culture
No matter what University you decide to attend, there will always be people who share similar interest as you and even meet your personality type. Whether you’re into sports, theatre, or art, there will always be someone to share your interests with. Yes, you come from a different culture, but in my experience, Americans love internationals. You are new, different and exciting! Take advantage of it.
Take advantage of the dorms
Dorms are filled with other freshman going through the same experience as you. Everyone is eager to make friends. Many dorms have common rooms where you can watch tv and play games. Something simple as joining a few kids at a game of table tennis or watching a program on TV is a great way to meet someone new. Remember that even though you may be farther away from home than many of your peers, it’s likely that they are missing home just as much as you. Bond over shared feelings like this.
Don’t stay in your room
Although the dorms are an awesome place to meet friends, don’t limit yourself, and don’t lock yourself in your room all day! Get out and be social. There are so many events happening around campus all the time, especially for freshman. Check flyers on the walls and your school email, there is bound to be something to do. Universities are always having events, especially for freshman, whether it’s a weekend picnic, game night, or movie night; there is always something to do.
It’s okay if your roommate isn’t your best friend
Having a roommate, you share common interests with certainly makes things easier, but don’t fret if you don’t click. There are so many students on campus, don’t stress if you don’t find your best friend in your roommate your first year, I certainly did not.
If there are clubs based on your interests, do it! Joining something you love with others can help create a bond with other students and it makes for great conversation and long lasting friends. You may even meet older students who can help you get adjusted in your first year.
Do your research before you go
It is impossible to predict what type of people you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have, however, knowing just a little about the things people talk about can prepare you for any introduction. For example, you may not know every NFL football team in America, however just knowing what American Football is may help you in a conversation.
Americans also use a lot of different slang and phrases. For example, if someone was to ask you “pass me the ball” some Americans may say something like “let me see that ball”.
Preparing for a few small differences like this may help you when adjusting to your new temporary home at university. If you don’t understand something someone says, don’t fret! Just ask! No one will judge you for not understanding.
Eat Meals with people
Since the dawn of time, people have always bonded over food. Just like how families should sit down to have dinner together, so should friends. College is no different; a meal is a great way to bond and get closer to a new friend or even chat with an old one. Just met someone new? Ask them if they’d like to grab lunch with you at the cafeteria, or local shop.
Ask the usual questions
It may seem obvious or Cliché, but small talk is important when meeting someone new.
For example: “Where are you from?” “How do you like it here so far?” “What classes are you taking” “What’s your major?” “Are you involved in any clubs or sports?”
These are just a few small basic questions that prepare you for any conversation.
Invite people to do your regular activities with you.
Perhaps you work out or do yoga every day. Invite a friend to join! Even if it’s not something they have done previously, they might be open to trying something new. Vice versa, if someone asks you to do an activity with them, even if it may seem strange at first, try it anyways! You never know, you could really enjoy it.
This may seem like an obvious topic, but it’s important. We all have different personalities. You may be really sarcastic and like to joke around and that is okay! Always remember to be yourself, just be aware of how far to take it. I’m not saying you need to be a people pleaser, that may be a step too far, but just be aware of your friend’s feelings. It’s very important to care for them. You will notice how your attitude towards them can reflect their attitude towards you.
All in all, studying in a different country is just that. Different; but don’t be afraid. Be outgoing and get involved. Remember that everyone is just as nervous an eager to make new friends as you are. You WILL make friends, and soon enough you’ll get used to the different lifestyle America holds. As different as it may be, different is okay. At the end of the day you will have had an amazing and unique experience, and will have made so many wonderful memories along the way.